In 2004, Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles sat down with Nitrate Online to discuss his breakthrough film, City of God. At the time, Meirelles had already garnered worldwide acclaim for his work, which combined Neorealist tropes with hypnotically rhythmic editing to create one of the most unique and poignant films of the decade.
Meirelles spoke about his editing techniques, in particular, lavishing praise upon the man responsible for its timeless montage sequences:
“I love the editing process,” Meirelles proclaims. “For me, it’s the best part of filmmaking. But the credit should go to Daniel. During shooting, I would edit in my own apartment every day, coming back from the set to spend an hour with him, watching his work. There’s a system we use while working together. I get all the dailies and watch them, then put little ink dots on interesting images or interpretations. A green dot means, this is interesting. But a red dot means, this absolutely has to be in the film!
“Daniel was 23 years old when he edited the film. He’s brilliant. He used to work as a cameraman doing auditions for actors, then took on production assistant duties for me. I really think he deserves the Oscar. His work is really original. ‘Lord of the Rings,’ is very well edited, but it’s a classic action movie. Daniel’s style, in comparison, is very fresh.”
Meirelles went on to disclose a fascinating tidbit about the film’s famous opening sequence (embedded above), in which a chicken escapes imminent death, and furiously runs throughout the favela:
“Believe it or not,” Meirelles laughs, “that scene was completely improvised. In fact, it was done in one take. It was by chance that we pulled it off. Maybe the chicken heard that we were improvising. It definitely wasn’t planned.”
Read the full interview here.